By Michelle M. Alletto
“We are the puzzle pieces who seldom fit with other puzzle pieces. Romantics, idealists, eccentrics, we inhabit single-dom as our natural resting state. In a world where proms and marriage define the social order, we are, by force of our personalities and inner strength, rebels.” – Sasha Cagen, To-Do List
Sasha Cagen is the founding editor of To-Do List magazine and the author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (2004). Her essay, “The Quirkyalone: Loners Are the Last True Romantics,” was published in To-Do List and reprinted in Utne in 2000. The response was huge. Singles all over the world identified with Sasha’s definition of the quirkyalone: “A person who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefers to be alone rather than date for the sake of being in a couple. With unique traits and an optimistic spirit; a sensibility that transcends relationship status.”
This message struck a chord. Sasha was flooded with letters and emails from men and women that felt validated by her refreshing stance on single-dom. Self proclaimed quirkyalones like Sarah Thurmond see quirkyalone as a good fit: "I'm happy knowing that there are others out here like me, folks willing to hold out for the right person rather than settling for the sake of being part of a couple…." Quirkyalones began to get together at quirkyalone parties, online chat rooms, and quirkyalone festivals. The quirkyalone movement was born.
Although the moniker is new, quirkyalones have existed throughout history. Cleopatra, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Katherine Hepburn, Cher, Oprah, Ally McBeal, Bjork, the list goes on. All have chosen to resist the pressure to marry in favor of living their lives according to their own rules. Quirkyalones resist contrived notions of romantic love in favor of sincerity, individuality, and independence. Even when quirkyalones find a special someone (usually another quirkyalone, in which case they are now quirkytogether), they remain distinct individuals instead of getting swallowed up by the “we” monster (i.e., “We don’t like that pizzeria” or “We can’t make it to your party”) and losing their identities.
Of course, challenging tradition is not always an easy path to forge. Quirkyalones have to face a society that socially and economically favors couples, preferably married and heterosexual. Anti-quirkyalones are everywhere: on reality shows where contestants vie for rich men, in books that teach women how to find the perfect man, and on the web where matchmakers promise to connect us with our soul mates. And, single folks aren't all happy with the quirkyalone movement. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's June Chua fears, "This movement isn't helping singles… putting a label on people as a way of separating them from the rest of society." Others like Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger journalist Sherry Lucas just aren't happy with the word quirkyalone: "I'm comfortable with quirky, for its individualistic flair. But, four syllables is just too many. It seems unwieldy."
According to Sasha, “People are vastly hungry for new and alternative ways of thinking about single-dom, relationships, and marriage.” Through her essay, book, and website, Sasha has challenged the traditional emphasis on coupling and inspired discussion on the single life. Quirkyalones are even redefining Valentines Day. International Quirkyalone Day, February 14, is “a celebration of all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and yes, self-love. International Quirkyalone Day is not anti-Valentine's Day. It's NOT a pity party for single people. It's an alternative, a feel-good alternative to the marketing barrage of Valentine's Day and an antidote to the silicone version of love presented in shows such as Joe Millionaire and The Bachelorette.” Last year, International Quirkyalone Day festivities took place in many cities including San Francisco, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Iowa, Sydney, Toronto, and Vancouver. Maybe it’s time to start one in your home town.
To chat with other quirkyalones and learn more about quirkyalone, visit www.quirkyalone.net.